Discussion in 'California & the West Trip Reports' started by Cookiedude, Dec 15, 2007.
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Dude. Hit return and suffered premature posting. That's what jetlag does for ya.
Anyway ... this is the third part of my trip report but since it is all non-Disney related I am being a good girl and posting it in here instead of the Disneyland trip report section with parts 1 and 2. But here's where you can find those ... http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1649579
Okay. On with the rest of the trip report.
Day 11 - The Barfers Do Legoland (Take Two)
Wake early, suffering Post-Disney-Blues already. Sigh. Console myself with the sounds of happy Lego-obsessed children buzzing downstairs excited about the day ahead.
Head off to Legoland and yay, it's actually open this time (pause to give myself a second albeit smaller kick in the head for being so stupid the first time round). Traffic was excellent so find ourselves waiting for the gate to open. No people around. Could be due to those very ominous black rain clouds overhead. Man it's cold.
Gates open and we head inside. DH's DS10 (is there some shorthand for that? DHDS10? ), the most Lego obsessed of the lot, immediately starts going berserk at the sight of the full-size Lego Darth Vader and R2D2. "Dad! Dad! Take a photo of Darth Vader! Now take a photo of me and Darth Vader! Now take a photo of you and Darth Vader!" At this rate he's going to be burnt out before lunchtime.
Sign up for a Mindstorms session later in the day (small class instruction on building Lego robotics) then the kids get their first ride of the day - Aquazone Racers. I was a bit worried that they were going to get really wet (not a good idea on such a freezing rain-threatening day) but the ride was harmless. They enjoyed it though.
Next was Bionicle Blaster, which is like Teacups but you sit in a Bionicle rather than, um, a teacup. Kids loved it.
Straight over to Lego Technic Coaster, the "thrill" ride of the park. Basically a wild mouse kind of coaster, much like Mulholland Madness, with a hella doozy of a drop at the start (fun to watch the little kids expressions on this one). Long wait even though the park was empty. Kids love it so they do it a second time.
Walk up the hill to Castle Hill and try Knights Tournament. Interesting ride, two people sit side-by-side in chairs on the end of an arm extended over some water, which then proceeds to turn them sidewards and upside down (the intensity is determined by the riders before the ride starts). Not sure what this has to do with Knights or any kind of Tournament but DH and his kids enjoyed it. My kids meanwhile enjoyed standing on the sidelines and setting off water bombs timed to wet the people riding
We all enjoy the Dragon coaster (small kiddy coaster but quite smooth and fun) then decide to have BBQ for lunch. It was okay, mostly it was warm and they had outside heaters next to the tables Kids try out the Hideaways playground before heading down the hill to the Pirates area. Bit too cold and wet today to really appreciate this part of the park, but I could see how it would be fun on a hot day. They try out Splash Battle (sail around in a pirate boat manning large squirt guns) and enjoy trying to get each other wet. They also all enjoy Skipper School ... then the rain comes. Not much, but enough to make it seem even colder than before.
DH and I warm ourselves with hot chocolates while the kids all do the driving school. They think this is hilarious for some reason and immediately go on for another round. It's cute watching all the littlies trying to obey road rules - especially with our kids driving on the wrong side of the road
We do the Lego factory tour, which is a series of mini conveyor belt displays that show how Lego is made and assembled in the factory. It was really interesting actually, and the kids all enjoyed learning about the processes and watching the conveyors belts go around and around and around. Mostly it was warm and indoors Ooh, and you get a free piece of Lego at the end of the tour (which conveniently empties you into a store, how very Disney). The kids all want to stay and play with the Lego, but our Mindstorms slot is fast approaching so we head down the hill via the helicopter ride and some of the little rides like Safari Trek and Coastersaurus.
DH and his kids go off to do Mindstorms so I take my boys to the Build and Test track. The guy at the front desk checks out some wheels for you and then you're free to build yourself a racer and test it on a racing slope to see who's is the fastest. Some of the creations were pretty epic and the dads definitely seemed to be having the most fun on this one
Off to get more hot liquids into me. The guy behind me in line asks if I'm from New Zealand. First time that's happened, I usually get England or sometimes Aussie, never a Kiwi. He tells me he's a Crowded House fan, which is weird because I'd just been to their concert the week before (superb outdoor gig under a pristine starry summer sky, with 20000 people all simultaneously singing along ... if you're a fan you'll understand ).
Rest of the day was spent touring Miniland then finished off by watching a 4-D movie (i.e. 3D plus some smoke) of Lego dudes fighting some knight or something to do with a spell ... or something. It was quite fun. Best bit was while waiting in line I saw a hummingbird. So cute! We don't have those over here. And it wasn't even made out of Lego.
Day 12 - Discovery Science Center and Disney Outlet
Supposed to be raining today. It didn't.
Went over to the Discovery Science Center in Anaheim. Kids science museum with hands-on exhibits about space and such. Expensive but they enjoyed it, good way to kill a few hours.
Then we headed up to Fullerton to check out the Disney Character Warehouse. Got some good bargains. See this post http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1656633
Day 13 - Venice Beach and Santa Monica
Walked along Venice Beach, picked up some cheap tees, people watched. Pretty cool so not a lot of people to watch. DH gets his kicks visiting the Dogtown Skate shop.
Stopped at Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica and went for a stroll. Lots of great street performers. DS7 particularly liked the reggae/ska band outside Johnny Rockets where we had lunch. He stood there watching them for a while, having a little groove. He's a funky little one that one. Saw the most realistic silver-statue-guy I've ever seen, he was dressed like a warrior and upon leaving him some money he gladly posed for some great photos in which he playfully threatened to slice off the kids' heads.
Day 14 - Universal Studios
On the drive up to LA it dawns on the kids that this would be the last theme park of the trip. Moaning all round Then they see Knotts out the window as we pass by, which doesn't help.
Parking at Universal is easy because it is DEAD. Nobody around. We head down to the backlot tour first up and have to wait for more people to come before the tram can head off The kids really enjoy the tour. Because it's Sunday we get to go down the street from Desperate Housewives because they're not filming that day.
Rest of the day was spent doing the rides (Jurassic Park, Mummy), attractions (Special Effects Stages, Backdraft) and shows (Blues Brothers, Waterworld). Half the effects in Waterworld don't work so the show doesn't make much sense to those that hadn't seen it before. Easily get everything done by 4pm so head home for a much-needed early night to get packed up before leaving for Big Bear in the morning.
Stop off for dinner at Mimi's. Had a wonderful server (Alfredo) and a lovely corner booth. What a nice place. Best food of the trip (blackened Cajun salmon and mash, mmmm). Really well priced too. I'd definitely recommend this place.
Day 15 - Drive to Big Bear
Say goodbye to the Residence Inn and head for the hills. On the way we stop at an airplane museum in Chino which has loads of hangars full of old warplanes and the like. DH and his son really enjoy it, but since they all looked the same to me the most I can say about it is that surprisingly they had the cleanest, nicest bathrooms of the entire trip
Over the weekend Big Bear received over a foot of snow, and the only two roads up there were both closed. So it was touch and go about whether we were going to make it there at all (and if you've been reading along since the start of my trip then you'll understand how likely I thought it was that this was going to happen ). But luckily the roads were reopened this morning. Just to be safe we went the long way around the back of the mountain, which was an ... um ... interesting detour through hicksville.
Now I've never seen snow in my life and come from a part of Australia where it never snows, so driving up that mountain and catching my first glimpse of that white stuff on the side of the road was really something. It seemed like every bend brought with it another glorious scene of snow-capped trees and icy mountain tops. It really was so beautiful. We climbed to 7000 ft in a matter of minutes and before we knew it we'd arrived at our idyllic log cabin. This place was simply gorgeous and I was in heaven.
Then the headache kicked in. Actually, kicked isn't a strong enough word. Picture a small elf trying to exit my skull with a battering ram made out of wrought iron. I was also finding it really difficult to breathe. DH suggests it might be altitude sickness. What's that, I ask. Well, he says, it usually only hits at 8000ft or above but you get a really bad headache, nausea and difficulty breathing. There's less oxygen at the higher altitude, or something. Riiiiiight. He reassures me by saying that it rights itself within a day or two when your body makes more red blood cells to compensate.
At this point I remind him that I'm on chemo. Chemo slows new cell generation. Particularly blood cells. So basically I have less red blood cells than I should and I darn well aint gonna be making any new ones in a hurry Oh oh.
Oops. Jet lag setting in. Will finish this tomorrow!
Man, jetlag is so much worse coming this way than going over. I am a wreck today. Got me a nice hot cup of green tea. Now where's my Graham cracker. Oh. That's right. We don't have them here. This country sucks.
Why are they called Graham crackers? They're not crackers. They're half cracker, half cookie. They should be called crackies. Or cookers.
Anyway, where was I. Oh yeah, altitude sickness.
Day 16 - Big Bear
So to recap, altitude sickness bites the big one. I wake still feeling like death after a long night with the worst headache I've ever had and trying really really hard not to barf. I was the only one not to succumb to Barfapalooza and I wasn't about to start now.
Everyone else was doing great and super keen to get out and start enjoying the snow. I on the other hand nearly passed out just helping the kids get their snowboots on
We eventually head out to the snow tubing place. It is so much fun being in the snow. It's 10 degrees, definitely the coldest I've ever been in by far. I always used to see people on TV wearing shirts and sweatshirts and jumpers and jackets and wondered what it must be like to need that many layers of clothes Now I knew. Cool. Well, freezing actually.
Everyone has a blast at the tubing place, hacking down the slopes on giant inner tubes. I was the official bag/glove/jacket holder, since I could barely stand up. It was fun watching them though.
Back home to our delightful log cabin in the woods, Swiss Miss and hot showers for everyone. Extremely odd selection of TV channels so the kids end up watching Sesame Street on PBS before bed
Day 17 - More of Big Bear
Feeling slightly better this morning, still cursing the chemo and my pathetic lack of blood-cell-making abilities. Kids watch I Love Lucy (and love it ) before heading out for the day. DH takes his kids snowboarding while my boys and I hit the snow tubing place again. It was soooo much fun! Even faster than yesterday now that the snow was a little more icy. We spent four hours there, alternating runs down the slopes with hot chocolates and video games in the 'lodge' down the bottom.
This whole trip DH has been doing the driving. Which was fine by me, even though in all my previous five trips to the US I'd never driven, I wasn't really daunted by the idea. Until today when he asked if I could drop him off at the ski place. Great. My first ever try at driving on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road and it's on icy roads in the snow while suffering altitude sickness Still, I did okay. Managed to not run over anybody or anything, so that's a plus.
Spent the rest of the day packing. Leaving tomorrow. Sooooo sad I don't even want to think about it. Luckily I'm distracted by the sheer enormity of stuff that needs to be stuffed into bags to take home. Curse you Disney Outlet!
Day 18 Plus - Going Home
Get up at 5:30am and bravely run from the warm warm bed to the cold cold bathroom. Have an extra long, extra hot shower and think about the epic journey ahead. Drive 3 hrs down to LAX, fly 10 hours to Tokyo, hop off then straight back on, fly 7 hours to Singapore, 8 hour stopover then 5 hour flight back home. It seems enormous and my enthusiasm for getting out of the shower is seriously lacking.
Pile all the bags and kids into the car and say our last goodbyes to Big Bear. I really really loved that place. It was so beautiful, so relaxed. As we drive past a sign that tells me it's currently 10 degrees, I say goodbye to the snow and think about how weird it is that in a few hours (okay, forty) we'll be back in the dry Aussie summer. Big sigh.
Flight to Tokyo was hilarious. People in front of me stick all their shoes and bags UNDER their chair taking up all my footroom space (yet I say nothing because (a) I'm a useless dweeb and (b) they only speak Japanese). They also jam a thousand carry-ons in the overhead compartment directly above my head and proceed to keep getting up to get something out of them every 30 mins, each time requiring them to lean over me and almost drop the bag directly on my head.
The guy behind me is a big loud Texan who collects Nazi memorabilia. I'm not even kidding. He spends half the flight telling the guy next to him (and the entire plane) his views on the world and the intricate details of his collection, the second half of the flight making a snoring sound that would put the onboard toilet flushing noise to shame.
My little TV thingy is broken so the sound cuts out every 5 seconds, making it impossible to watch anything. My meal arrives and it's mushroom risotto ... I'm allergic to mushrooms My fault for ordering a vegetarian meal but hey there was no category called "Vegetarian except mushrooms" so it was always going to be a gamble. Must say the food and service on Singapore Airlines is superb though.
Seventy hours later (okay, so it was only ten but it felt like seventy) we land in Tokyo ... just as the kids finally fall asleep. Waking them up is like rousing someone from a coma. We disembark, only to do a lap around the terminal, ending up back at the security screening at the gate. What? We have to go through screening again? We don't even have our luggage, what is the point ....?? Wait in long line to go through screening yet again, then arrive at the gate and immediately have to reboard. Not even time to stop and get some Hello Kitty paraphernalia (apparently the only thing they sell at Narita airport).
Flight to Singapore was a little better, although still in same seats on same airplane so movie thing still broken. But now minus people in front and obnoxious dude at the back, so manage to get a little bit of sleep.
Arrive in Singapore at 1:30am local time. Head straight to the transit hotel, thank goodness we'd thought to book ahead of time because there was a long line of people waiting for rooms and they were fully booked. The boys and I have our own little room, complete with beds (yay), a TV and shower (triple yay). Boys don't want to sleep so they spend 5 hours watching Cartoon Network while I have a looooong hot shower and crash out for a bit. Head back downstairs (so weird being in a hotel in the middle of the airport) and grab some breakfast before heading the (thankfully) last airplane and shortest flight (thank you god) of the trip.
Land back home to rainy weather and a mild day despite it being summer. Odd. Find someone else's diary inside my suitcase. Even odder. Declare it to customs and they too think it's odd. Finally head out to arrivals and my ex-husband is surprisingly waiting to greet us. I find this funny since the whole trip I'd been sweating that my boyfriend's ex-wife would turn up to meet us (looooong story ) and yet it turns out to be my ex and not his Anyway, it was great because now we didn't need to take a cab home.
Relieved to see my little car waiting for me right where I'd parked it so early on a Sunday morning just three weeks ago. Has it only been that long? Pay $72 for parking (what a bargain) and drive off wondering why everyone's on the wrong side of the road
Walk in the door at home and it's like a little snapshot of the moment I left. It all seems weird and foreign somehow. The trip countdown calendar on the fridge, with all the days crossed off. The last minute list of things to do sitting on my desk. My packing list lying on my unmade bed. Expired milk and wilted lettuce in the fridge (oops). All these little signs of life BH (Before Holiday).
I see the kids' school bags and all their work for the year sitting in a huge pile and remember that they've finished school and are on summer break. The cookie cutters on the kitchen counter remind me of the week-long cooking-fest I had before I left when I baked eight boxes of christmas cookies as gifts for the boys' teachers and aides. It is just so strange. Did any of that actually happen? Seems like an eternity ago.
My ex-husband arrives with the boys. DS7 had fallen asleep as soon as they drove off from the airport, so carried him straight to his bed. DS10 was doing fine and wanted me to install the game I'd bought him at Singapore airport as a reward for being so quiet in the transit hotel I kept trying to convince him to go to bed but he convinced me he was fine ... until I asked him to choose what he wanted for dinner and he burst into tears Okay, time for bed. He fell straight asleep.
So with all of us in jetlag induced comas we crashed for the night ... until I was woken at 5am by a tapping on the shoulder and DS7's little voice saying "mummy, I don't remember anything after daddy put on the Bill Cosby tape in the car"
So that's it. My trip to California. Thanks for following along, I really just posted this for my own benefit so I can read it later on but hope you enjoyed it too. And weirdly enough, one of the highlights of the trip for me was sitting up late at night during Barfapalooza getting support from a bunch of wonderful people who became my American family for a while
glad you made it home safe....I exactly know that feeling when you walk back into home after a 3 week vacation !
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